Sundargarh, Aug 11:
At least ten people were killed and several others injured when an active overburden at the Kulda open cast mine in the Basundhara-Garjanbahal coal mines of Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) in Sundargarh district caved in on Saturday morning.
The rescue operations which had to be called off by late evening following heavy rains has resumed this morning. Local people say the death toll could rise to fifteen.
Five others were rescued from the debris by MCL authorities with help from the civil administration, police and local volunteers, sources said. The search and rescue operations were still on when reports came in last and were expected to continue till Sunday as some more people are feared trapped inside the debris.
Eyewitnesses said there were at least 20-25 people from the nearby slums were extracting coal from the dump when the mishap occurred at about 9 am on Saturday morning.r
“The mining areas are prohibited zones. But despite all efforts to prevent unauthorised entry, some people sneak into out skirting mining zones to pick coal from overburden dumps,” MCL public relations officer (PRO) Dikken Mehra said in a press release.
MCL authorities have announced ex-gratia of Rs 3 lakh for the families of each of the deceased, besides Rs 10, 000 each to meet expenses of their last rites. The company has also announced that it would take care of the medical expenses of those injured in the mishap.
The Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh to the next of the kin of each worker killed in the mine tragedy and also ordered a RDC-level probe.